Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Treasured Heirloom Blanket

October 2011

Shortly before my first baby was due, I was developed an overwhelming feeling that one just can't have too many baby blankets. So I got busy, and this is the result.


It's a freebie pattern, and although fairly simple in construction (simple enough to work on in the car etc) being bias knit meant that it grew and then shrank with every row, and that was enough to keep it interesting.

The yarn I used was Karina Superior Quality dk according to the button band, although it no longer seems to be in production. I picked it up along with various others from my local Freecycle group, and it's great to have been able to make something so useful with it. It's a pure acrylic yarn, and not the softest, but it's warm and washable so I can't complain. And nor can the baby yet!

Pattern: Treasured Heirloom Blanket by Lion Brand Yarns
Yarn: Karina Superior Quality dk
Amount: 5 skeins
Colour way: cream
Needle: 3.5mm
Size: one size
One rarely: here

Monday, 31 October 2011

Seamless Hybrid

October 2011

A.k.a practically the only bit of Christmas knitting I'm planning on doing, what with a November baby on the way. Elizabeth Zimmermann's Seamless Hybrid from Knitting Without Tears is really joyful knitting, though. There's a lot of stocking stitch, but it's made up for by the fact that the percentage system works and the way the body and sleeves are joined and the yoke constructed is fiendishly clever.

This is my husband's second Seamless Hybrid. Maybe next time I'll talk him into letting me jazz it up a bit with a zip, or row or two of Space Invaders across the chest, or a cable-y bit somewhere, but for now it's reassuring to know that plain as it is, it's likely to get an awful lot of wear. I just hope the Eco Wool dk is up to it, as it does feel a bit fluffy.

Why Sirdar have chosen to discontinue this yarn is a mystery to me, as it's one of the nicest Sirdar yarns I've ever used. The decision did mean I was able to get a massive bag of it from Kemps for cheap, although I really must remember to start the intended project right away next time I do that, because one day running out of a discount discontinued yarn is bound to bite me in the whatnot. Fortunately not this time.

Size wise, we wanted a fairly relaxed fit which wasn't going to lose any length, and so settled for 46" chest and 27" length which used just under 1,500 yards. How to do that using a dk is carefully written out on my project page, for the sake of my own sanity as much as anything else, since I KNOW I'm going to make this again. Maybe in some lovely New Lanark dk next time...

Pattern: Seamless Hybrid with Shirt Collar by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Sirdar Eco Wool dk
Amount: 13.5 skeins
Colourway: 204 Grey
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Custom (approx. 46" chest)
On ravelry: here

Monday, 19 September 2011

Starlight Blanket

September 2011

When I was little I used to have a blanket a lot like this, except that some of the stars on mine were pink. Sadly, I've no idea what became of it, but in browsing baby blanket patterns on ravelry (I get the impression that you can never have too many) I spotted this, and had to make it.

Having washed this and blocked it (using a steam iron held about an inch above the blanket so as not to melt the acrylic) I'm a bit disappointed that it hasn't come up softer. I guess this is a useful lesson in the difference between acrylics and baby acrylics.

Fortunately, as it's intarsia, this would have had to have been lined anyway, and so I'm hoping to find some nice snuggly lining to make up for it.

If I was to make this again I'd hopefully drag my heels over sewing in all those loose ends a little less, and look at whether there's any reason the border can't be knitted as-you-go rather than done separately at the end and sewn down. And use a softer yarn, obviously!


Pattern: Starlight Blanket
Yarn: King Cole Moods Duet dk / Patons UK Fab dk
Amount: 1 skein of each
Colourway: 821 Moody Blue / 2302 Yellow
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 15 September 2011

February Beret

September 2011

So called because that garter stitch and gull lace combination was inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater, this is a very pretty freebie pattern which seemed to me to be the ideal way to turn some leftover Cascade 220 into a rather lovely birthday present.


As the pattern, like the FBS, was originally written for dk weight yarns (and Cascade 220 is a worsted) it was necessary to modify it a little in order to ensure that it doesn't come out too loose. Luckily someone on ravelry has already worked out exactly how it's done. You've got the love teh internets.

This hat will hopefully end up as part of a cold weather set for a friend of mine along with Susie's Reading Mitts which I gave her last year. It's nice to be able to build up a matching set like that.

Pattern: February Beret by Caroline Dlugy-Hegwer
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Amount: 1 skein
Colourway: 6212
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Liesl

August 2011

Another thing for me... well it can't ALL be about baby, now can it?

Some time ago I made Chantal, but it didn't get nearly as much wear as it deserved (particularly considering the price Berroco yarns retail for in the UK), and so it was frogged and turned into Buttercup and this:


A fun and easy pattern which is going to be useful post pregnancy too - in fact I think I probably made a smallish size in the hope that it would incentivise me to get back into shape as quickly as possible. The open front on this leaves plenty of bump-room, though, and that was part of its appeal.


The feather and fan lace comes with a bit of a health warning, in that I found that it grew a lot more than I'd anticipated when I blocked it - so much so that the only solution was to rip back and take some inches off the length. I wish I'd been a bit more thorough and played around with my tension swatch before I started. So much for being able to fit top-down knits as you go!

This pattern includes long sleeve and short sleeve and wide neck and narrow neck options. I went for wide neck and long sleeve (because I can't see much point making anything short sleeved in Alpaca). There was also a picot cast-off option for the sleeves but I like the wavy line you get by just using a knitted cast off with feather and fan.

This is me at 7.5 months, more or less living in Seraphine maternity jeans. :)

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Amount: 2.5 skeins
Colourway: 6212
Needles: 8.00mm
Size: 34"
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bellyphant

July 2011

When I was a kid I was a little bit obsessed with elephants, and I still think they're very cool animals. So I really couldn't resist this pattern, especially when I noticed it was called "Bellyphant" on account of the tiny elephants being positioned around the waist band. I'm going so soft in my old age.

I modified this pattern by making the section above the elephants plain rather than striped, and by lowering the neckline by a couple of rows. Jennifer Little comes up with THE cutest colour motifs, but at the risk of being very critical, it does feel a little bit like the design process runs out of steam a bit at that point. The shape of this is virtually identical to her sheep yoke cardigan, and I couldn't help but think it might have been nice to see a different neckline, or a garter stitch trim or... well... something...

I'm not sure about the wisdom of making baby clothes from Felted Tweed - it is machine washable in theory, but I've had one or two bad experiences on that front already, and so I'm going to have to be very careful with it.

It can also grow quite a bit if you handwash it. These pictures were taken after just a gentle steam block, but I'll try and remember to come back and give the before and after measurements when I wash it.

Pattern: Bellyphant by Jennifer Little
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed
Amount: 2 skeins MC, 0.5 skeins CC
Colourway: 170 Seafarer MC, 165 Scree CC
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Maile

July 2011

Without wanting to sound like a bit of a one trick pony, a blog called What to Knit when you're Expecting is an incredibly handy thing to have discovered right about now. Especially when it contains free patterns as lovely as this one.

I first bought this yarn with Liam in mind, but it was such a dark grey that the black bits of the colourwork didn't stand out enough, so I ended up using something else.

So apart from having a suitable yarn and this being a freebie, the real appeal of this pattern was that I couldn't reverse engineer the lacy bits at the raglan seam just by looking at them, and I wanted to find out how it was done. I love tackling a project like that.

A lot of people seem to struggle with the section of this pattern where the arms are attached to the body. As I didn't have any 3.25mm DPNs, and I'm not keen on magic loop, I worked my sleeves flat (telling myself that the body had been worked back and forth, so strictly speaking I'd get a more consistent tension that way anyway). I think that must have helped a lot, because I didn't find it too much of a struggle at all.

The buttons (which are ceramic and will no doubt prove horribly impractical) came from Hobbycraft in Leeds.

Pattern: Maile by Nikki Van Der Car
Yarn: Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4-ply
Amount: 1 skein
Colourway: 0044 Gray
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tea Leaves

July 2011

So for reasons which will become increasingly apparent over the next few months, I'm on a quest for projects which will work as maternity wear but which I'll also enjoy wearing the rest of the time. This boat necked inverted v type shape is a real winner from that point of view, and the the ruched yoke of Tea Leaves really appealed to me.

After purchasing this pattern via the Madelinetosh website I managed to lose the first copy somehow by opening the pattern and then closing it again without saving it first. Madelinetosh were very helpful about it, though, and emailed out another copy as a .pdf.

I think there is a slight error with buttonholes, as a k2tog is followed by a double yo, which means an increase of two stitches in comparison to a decrease of just one. This means you end up with one extra stitch per buttonhole after the buttonhole row unless you work some additional decreases somewhere.


I also thought that picking up stitches at the recommended rate of 3 for every 4 rows created a button-band which was much too long in relation to the body of the cardigan, and puckered rather than hanging flat. I found picking up two then skipping a row, then three then skipping a row worked better.

I love this yarn, Cascade 220, HARD. I originally bought a big bag of it to make Heroine but having changed my mind it's since been used for a Seamless Hybrid, a pair of Susie's Reading Mitts, this and I still have enough left for a hat (probably a February Beret). Not bad at all for about £60.


Other mods: short rows in neckline and bust-darts. Four buttonholes rather than two and placed closer together. Sleeves shortened by about six inches.

Dress from H&M, buttons from Duttons for Buttons in York (and I'm very pleased with the colour match). This is me at 5.5 months :)

Pattern: Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LeBarre
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Amount: 4 skeins
Colourway: 9448 Green
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Friday, 15 July 2011

Sabbatical

June 2011

This project is very aptly named - it's the most labour intensive project I've undertaken for about 6 months, and perhaps not the wisest choice for someone participating in a challenge to knit 12 sweaters in 2011. The amount of work is obvious from the pictures, but it is worth pointing out that this is what is sometimes called "true" lace with yarn overs and decreases on both right side and wrong side rows, and that's partially what makes it such slow going.

I just couldn't resist it, though - in a magazine full of beautiful designs this one stands out a mile in my opinion. Now it's done, it feels like it was worth every minute, but I must admit that relief at having finally finished it is the main reason I'm smiling so broadly in the photographs.

There isn't a great deal else I can usefully say about this. It's worked flat and sewn up rather than seamless. I didn't modify it like I usually would, because adding short row bust darts in an allover lace pattern is way beyond me. In fact as far as I know, it's impossible...

I'm not sure about the amount of yarn used because it was partially frogged from a previous project (and kid classic stood up to frogging very well, I thought).

Connie Chang Chinchio is a stone cold genius, especially for fans of lace, like me.

Pattern: Sabbatical by Connie Chang Chinchio from Twist Collective Winter 2009
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic
Amount: 8.5 skeins approx.
Colourway: 831 Smoke
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: 34"
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sprout Blanket

June 2011

I’m still on a “determined not to make baby things that are too pastel-y” kick, and so I was delighted to stumble across a pattern which just begs to be made in a real acid-green.

I had a bit of difficulty finding a washable aran in the right colour - the only other option at my LYS was some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, but that would have cost something like three times the £10 we paid for the yarn I did use. After much deliberation the solution we came up with was to use a 4-ply held double to make an Aran. I think it worked very well.

I’ve taken pictures of both sides of this blanket, because although the side which is predominantly reverse stocking stitch looks slightly prettier, it IS reversible and won’t need lining which is great and will make it nice and lightweight.

Yarn: King Cole Zig-zag
Amount: 2 skeins
Colourway: 762
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Offset Wraplan

May/June 2011

I know, I know. Baby clothes made from 100% wool. But I’m the one who’s going to have to be in charge of washing it, so it’s okay.

I made this is just under a week whilst on holiday in Paris. I wanted something unisex and colourful, I think the colours in this yarn are just gorgeous. Slightly autumnal, which is great for a November baby. And it matches this guy’s scarf, which is everso cute. I’m also planning to make a hat out of this yarn, to match this cardigan.

The buttons are from Boyes in York. I make the button band in the same ribbed stitch as the neckline, waist band and cuffs, although the pattern suggested using stocking stitch. I found it easier to work out where to put the buttons this way by counting the ribs between each one.

The body of this was knitted back and forth on a circular needle, and the sleeves were knitted in the round on DPNs, so it’s a seamless knit. The button bands were picked up and knit at the end. Oh, and it’s a freebie pattern too, which is obviously a bonus!

Yarn: Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit
Amount: 1.5 skeins
Colourway: Destiny
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Baby Berry Hats

May/June 2011

Last summer my favourite LYS, Ramshambles, was running a special offer which meant that anyone spending over £10.00 got a free magazine. Not one to let that sort of enabling behaviour pass me by, I grabbed a skein of purple Debbie Bliss Rialto, without any clear idea of what I was going to do with it. Then I remembered this hat, which is one of the first things I ever queued on ravelry, many moons ago.

I'm not sure what sort of berry this is supposed to be, exactly, but it's cute as hell anyway. I cast on the first hat on leaving home for a short holiday in Paris, and by the time I got there it was finished. So I made another one on the way back with the leftovers!

This is a lovely easy pattern - as long as you're okay with i-cord and DPNs, the only slightly tricky part is getting your colourwork to look tidy when you have to carry your floats for seven stitches.


Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto (MC) / Sirdar Snuggly DK (CC)
Amount: Less than one skein of each
Colourway: 23028 Grape (MC) / 0260 Country Lime (CC)
Needles: 3.50 mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Baby Bobbi Bear

May 2011

A little while ago one of my husband's colleagues gave me a bag of various chunky yarns which she couldn't use, including some Courtelle Chunky by Wendy. It looked like a very suitable colour for a teddy to me, and so I decided to make this pattern again. My first attempt at it is here.

This is a very quick and easy little pattern, with mercifully little finishing - it's basically seamless apart from the ears needing to be sewn on because they are made separately.

No mods, except that I made the body on a short circular needle rather than DPNs. I also skipped duplicate stitching around the neck and opted instead for a rather dapper scarf (made in sideways garter stitch using Twilley’s Freedom Spirit).

I found the instructions for the section labelled “Butt” a bit confusing, but that was my fault for not reading through the pattern properly because if I had, I would have realised that “sk” meant “skip”.


Yarn: Wendy Classics Courtelle Chunky
Amount: 3.5 skeins
Colourway: 3022
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Anouk

March 2011

I've wanted to make this ever since I first spotted it in Knitty. I'm a huge fan of Kate Gilbert's designs, and this is one of my favourites.

The side seams are held together with tabs rather than sewn up, and so it's both easy to get on and off and able to grow with the baby. And the colour-scheme is cute without being overly girly. There's something about knitting with bright orange which makes me very very cheerful too.


What should have been the back of mine was a bit neater than the front, and so I switched them around, meaning that the button used to fasten the shoulder is visible from the front. I added another button on the other shoulder to balance it out, but it doesn't actually fasten or unfasten.

I cast off the neck knitwise, and if I was going to make this again, I would cast off the tops of the pockets that way too, rather than in moss stitch. I think a tighter cast-off would sit more snugly against the dress itself. Mine gapes a little, although I could probably add some press-studs to fix that.



I made the pockets using intarsia, although it can be done using duplicate stitch. I don't mind intarsia so much, but I hate sewing up, and doing the pockets took me aaaages, and I still think they could be neater...

Total project cost £6.00 (free pattern made using Rico Creative Cotton Aran which is £1.50 per skein at first4yarns.com).

Pattern: Anouk by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Rico Creative Cotton Aran
Amount: 2 skeins (mc)
Colourway: Orange 74 / Cardinal 11 / Red 05 / Pistachio 41
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Saartje's Booties

March 2011

I haven't made a pair of bootees in years. When I was just learning to knit I knocked up a few pairs for friends of mine with babies, because they were so irresistibly cute and quick to make (the bootees that is, not the babies, although they were cute too...)

What eventually put me off making more of this sort of thing is that I've heard babies can be quite cunning at figuring out how to wriggle out of them, and so I'm not entirely convinced that they are as useful as the many other tiny wooly things out there just waiting to be knitted.

Be that as it may, when I finished Aubrey with so much yarn left over that it would have been rude not to make something to match I thought I'd give these a go. They were so quick and easy that I don't think I'll be too upset if they get wriggled out of...

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock
Amount: About 0.2 skeins
Colourway: Rayon Vert
Needles: 2.75mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Aubrey

March 2011

This gorgeous little baby vest came up for testing about a week before one of my best friends was due to have her first baby.

Having given a bit of thought to the issue of what I could knit for a baby born in March which would actually come in useful, I'd originally settled on Anouk, but given how much Malabrigo Sock I had left over from Folded I couldn't resist making her this little vest too.


Aubrey was fast, easy and fun to make. There was a bit of sewing up because the front and back are worked separately and then seamed, but not too much. I was really glad I got the opportunity to test it.

I love Malabrigo Sock as a baby yarn - it's machine washable after all, and very, very soft. And the colours are pretty funky too. I think one skein would probably be enough to make this and matching bootees and a matching hat, because I still have a little bit leftover.

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock
Amount: About 0.4 skeins
Colourway: Rayon Vert
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Small
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Folded

March 2011

This yarn was a Christmas present bought for me by a generous friend during a trip to New York. It's always lovely to have other people buy you yarn, especially when they have only the vaguest of ideas about what you usually knit with, because you can end up with some wonderful surprises.

I wanted a fairly simple pattern for this yarn so that the beautiful colour changes didn't get lost under some fancy detail or other. Having been sorely tempted by Clara and Myrtle I settled on Folded, because it looked like the sort of sweater I could get a lot of use from.

All that stocking stitch in such a lightweight yarn was pretty tedious, and as a result I took about three months to get this done.

Some fairly minor mods:
  • I added a little length (about half an inch or so);
  • 3 of the pleats are supposed to lean one way and 3 the other (so that they're all facing inwards). It doesn't bother me, but I think I must have done something wrong, because mine all seem to face the same way;
  • I made the sleeves flat and seamed them, because in order to knit them in the round, I would have needed to use DPNs, and I found it very difficult to get a neat result that way (due, I think, to a fatal combination of lightweight yarn and fairly heavy wooden DPNs); and
  • I added 6 rows of garter stitch at the neckline. The pattern would have you work it in stocking stitch, but I found it rolled over on itself that way.
Normally I would have added a bit of a bust-dart too, but this is fairly loose fitting and I didn't really see the need. As a result it's roomier around my hips and waist than around my bust, but I don't mind that. Being quite loosely knit, the Malabrigo sock has a really lovely drape.


Pattern: Folded by Veera Välimäki
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock
Amount: About 2.2 skeins
Colourway: Rayon Vert
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Small
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Wintergreen Mittens

March 2011

My Mum has a habit of buying yarns without a specific project in mind. This is A Good Thing, because sometimes they get donated to me, and I have a hunt around for something suitable. In this instance, I discovered Kate Gilbert's Wintergreen Mittens and immediately decided I had to make them. If only because I couldn't for the life of me work out how the leaf pattern was actually made.

March may not really be the ideal time of year to make mittens, but when you only have one skein of something, your options can be limited. And anyway, it's Mother's Day soon, and I'll seize upon any opportunity to make a knitted gift.

My husband loves this pattern so much he wants me to adapt it and make a cushion or something, which I may well do one day.

For now I'm glad I learned the technique of twisting stitches in stranded knitting on something fairly small.

Hard work, but so worth it.

Pattern: Wintergreen Mittens by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Sirdar Click dk with wool (MC) and King Cole Merino Blend dk (CC)
Amount: 1 skein of each
Colourway: 128 Tarn (MC) / 41 Oatmeal (CC)
Needles: 2.75mm
Size: dk size
On ravelry: here